Technique Thursday – Shooting Wide Angle

This week’s post is one that interests me a lot, as I use a 50mm focal length (or medium format equivalent) about 90% of the time (I’m working to change that a bit).

For 35mm or full frame digital cameras, anything 35mm or wider is considered to be wide angle. These lenses are great for storytelling and showing more of the environment/surroundings of an image, and can also produce quirky/humorous/active shots due to slight distortion.

I loved the tips and thoughts that these photographers shared with us, as well as the images of course:

Kat Braman –  Get close and then get even closer.
A wide angle lens gives you the opportunity to tell the story from the point of view of a secondary character rather than a detached observer but if you want to do that, you have to get close.  Closer than you might initially find comfortable.

Emily Robinson –  Use a wide angle to make big seem bigger. Examples: Oceans, mountain scenes, architecture.
Use a wide angle to make small seem smaller. Example: small child in a large scene.
Use a wide angle to make s small space seem bigger. Example: a small bedroom can appear much larger with a wide angle.
Use a wide angle to distort purposefully, usually to interesting or humorous effect. Example: a large mouth opened wide looks huge. A dog nose become larger than life.

When shooting wide, be extra careful not to place people on the outer edges of a composition or their bodies/head/legs/limbs can become stretched and badly distorted unintentionally.
Don’t be afraid to hold a wide angle over your head or shoot from the hip for interesting and fun shots. Unlike normal or zoom lenses, a wide angle has potential to actually get the shot and in-focus, particularly when the aperture is stopped down tighter.

Dave Waddell – Siousca Photography – In my opinion wide angles work best when including some environment…so resist the urge to fill the frame with the subject and take a step back to include some of the surroundings as well.

Me (Abbie McFarland) – wide angle works particularly well with children for a bit of quirkiness or playfulness, as well as for storytelling. My go-to camera and setup as of late for wide angle is black and white film in my Leica M6.

Jenna Reich –  Get close to your subject in order to add dimension to your shot while separating them from their messy environment. Distortion can add variety to your shots and highlights the impulsiveness of children and their various expressions.

Zalmy B. – F3, 20mm ais, Delta 100

Kirstin Roper – I LOVE my wide angle lenses and find they fit my style perfectly, allowing me to tell more of the story in one image. and they are a necessity for in-home sessions!

Jax Harmon – Because a wide angle gets so much of the scene in, make sure everything in the frame helps to tell the story instead of taking away from it by cluttering up the frame.

Kimberly Walker – These are all taken with my Canon 24-70mm or 35mm. I love shooting “wide” with these lenses because they let me capture my subject along with the background. Whether its for clients or of my own family, I love taking shots that show the environment they are in. These are often the shots that are printed as large canvases and hung on the wall and they make fantastic double-page spreads in photo books. I want to remember our life exactly as it is now – what our house and yard looks like, the art on the wall, the toys on the floor – and I try to capture this for my clients as well.

Sheryll Lynn – Because the wide angle shots can cause a lot of distortion, I save those super wide angle shots for things that are a little more “fun” and “quirky”.

Kristine Paulsen – I love getting an “overall” of the scene I’m photographing, and a wide angle is a great way to do this. One of my favorite things to do when composing a wide shot is to give the photo room to breathe. I.e., if you’ve got some awesome negative space and some great scenery, let that shine in your photo, and compose so your subjects are off to one side. You’ll end up with a photo that really gives you an idea of WHERE the photo was taken.


Thanks so much for sharing your images and thoughts with us!

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